Thursday, April 22, 2010

‘Let’s support women in local government’

‘Let’s support women in local government’
Daily Graphic; Thursday, April 22, 2010; Page 11 (Gender & Children)
Salome Donkor

The role of women in politics and public office is one of the current burning governance issues because of the perceived and acknowledged potential and contribution of women to governance processes.

Gender and policy advocacy organisations recognize that improving the lives of women and other members of society require a balanced gender representation in government structures by promoting greater responsiveness to women in politics and decision-making,

For some women who want to enter national politics, governance at the various levels, namely by the local or district, regional and national, is crucial to them, since it provides them with good training grounds to improve their chances of being elected to political office to promote gender-balance in decision-making at all levels.

The involvement of more women in politics and decision-making is expected to meet their interests and basic needs and enable them continue to influence policies from a gender perspective and addressing inequalities and injustices in social relationships.

The local government system has therefore become good grounds for some women, who want to enter into national politics. But the most difficult challenge that confront most women intending to enter into local government, is lack of funds.

The support women in the 2006 District Assembly elections, the Ministry of Women and Children’s Affairs (MOWAC), launched the “Women in Local Government Fund” to assist women aspirants.

According to the Public Relations Officer of MOWAC, Mrs. Adiza Ofori-Adu, each of the 1, 772 women who contested the 2006 District Assembly elections, received GH¢20.00 for their campaign activities.

She said the Department of Women in the various regions have been task to work in collaboration with the district assemblies and identify 20 women from each district to support them to take part in the forthcoming district assembly elections.

Speaking at a day’s review meeting on “Challenges and Prospects of Women in Decision-Making Positions,” in Koforidua recently, the Eastern Regional Director of the Department of Women, Ms Jane Kwapong, re-emphasised the need for the private sector, corporate bodies and related organizations and individuals to financially support the “Women in Local Government Fund.”

She said society should see gender equality as a tool for sustainable development and called for support and encouragement by both men and women to ensure that more women were elected in the forthcoming district assembly elections.

Participants were drawn from civil society organisations , women’s groups, the National Commission for Civic Education (NCCE), Gender Desk Officers and assembly women.

She urged political parties to promote equal rights and opportunities for women and men to engage in political activities and take further steps to elect women in their “safe constituencies” to contest parliamentary elections increase the number of women in parliament.

She said since women’s reproductive roles tended to militate against their participation in politics and other decision-making processes, there was need to encourage the sharing of household responsibilities to enable more women to participate in public life.

The Member of Parliament for New Jauben South, Madam Beatrice B. Boateng, who is also an elected assembly member of the New Jauben Municipal Assembly, advised women to rise above reproach in the face of all changes and prove their worth, stressing that some women had been able to make it, despite the challenges.

She mentioned poverty as a major challenge that prevented women from aspiring to greater heights and pointed out that the problems could be overcome with determination, perseverance, hard work and optimism.

Mr. Rex Baah Antiri of Ghana Education Service (GES) appealed to the government to create an enabling environment that would strengthen women to be part of decision-making, especially at higher levels.

He called for sustained efforts to deal with all forms of violence against women and repressive cultural practices against women to enable them contribute their quota to development.

Participants suggested that efforts should be intensified to address the issues of gender stereotyping, as well as speed up the socialization process and gender equality, adding that the empowerment of women should not be limited to those in towns and cities, but extended to rural women as well.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Mainstreaming Climate Change, Water Security and Gender

Mainstreaming Climate Change, Water Security and Gender
Daily Graphic; Monday, April 19, 2010; Page 26 (Features)
Delali B. Dovie

The Inter-Governmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in its 2008 Technical Paper VI on climate change and water, proposes a focus on water security as a basis for sound early adaptation strategy. The report highlights the importance of using water security in delivering immediate adaptation benefits to vulnerable and undeserved populations, towards advancing the Millennium Development Goals, while strengthening adaptative systems and capacity for managing climate risk factors. It is now known that warmer temperatures, and altered patterns of precipitation and runoff, will increasingly compromise the effective management of water resources and water supplies that could technically cripple water security, food systems and natural resources.

This is because water resources remain the major central tendency and hence crosscutting resource of the effects and impacts of climate change, vulnerability and adaptation. Similarly, it is expected that the vulnerability of water resources and challenges of water insecurity will impact society through gender relations, culturally, socio-politically economically and in decision making. Imbalances in gendered responses to impacts in health, hygiene and sanitation sectors as well as gendered conflicts and violence, will be experienced with complementary adaptative strategies.

These attributes have been found to largely charaterise the climate change and variability impacts status of the three northern regions of Ghana.

Water Security
Water security has been defined as, “the reliable availability of an acceptable quantity and quality of water for health, livelihoods and production, coupled with an acceptable level of water-related risks.” Water security is not simply about the availability of water and accompanying declining supplies, but also about issues of access, use, ad safety. Fundamental human and national sovereignty rights characterize the access to water and imping equity and affordability where gendered dimensions are of critical importance.

Thus, the concept of water security imbibes social and political decision making on use in the context of competing demands. Therefore the issues of availability in the form of surface or ground water are physically and technically imposed as they become the immediate entry point, or exposure to climate change stressors.

The problems of gender often arise on access and use, determined mainly by political, social and economic factors. The impacts of climate change and variability will in no doubt play a major roles in changing physical and political economy facets of water resources and water.

Therefore, water policy needs to be more proactive and adaptable to social concerns of who has access and to what extent, and also who makes the decision. This means that with the changing face of the climate and hence water resources and water (demand and supply). Water policy must be targeted to avoid marginalization of certain vulnerable groups (e.g. women).

Impacts and Gender
It has been established that although the impacts of climate change and variability through water stress and insecurity will impact both gender, women will bear the most brunt. This is because research ash shown that historically, women have evolve their own livelihood strategies and coping mechanisms around water, thus establishing a cultural tie that if disrupted, will lead to devastating outcomes.

Additionally, the differential work of women, limited control and lack of tenure over production and diminished access to common coping mechanisms, as well as restricted mobility, amplify the impact of disasters for them.

Yet those deficiencies under normal conditions would have been expected to complement the role of their male counterparts. Therefore the environmental change science community on human dimensions foresees a scenario whereby once women are supported to develop their resilience in relation to climate change induced water insecurity, men and the rest of society will be better adapted.

However, policy and development interventions to make this happen will depend on information from the scientific community for which Gender Analysis or Gender Profiling have been used in recent times. Through such tools, compilation on some impacts on women have been revealed as:

1. Ensuing food insecurity and especially unavailability influences food consumption patterns that are often gender differentiated, favouring men and allowing more access than women.
2. In farming communities, the loss of assets and entitlements of women are a common phenomenon as they often failed to bounce back due to limited livelihood options.
3. In water-stressed and drought-prone areas, women tend to allocate more effort to domestic water collection as they will usually do and in the process, fail to balance the times and energy available for productive work, leading to the loss of income and thus often resulting in poverty.
4. Flood is one important aspect of climate change that has been established to increase the workload of women due to recovering and rescuing of assets, intense cleaning, resources mobilisation and maintenance in addition to the house chores. When this happens, it often leads to reduced opportunities available for productive work and at times women labourers may lose sources of paid work due to flooded fields.
5. Whilst mass migration as a result of climate change impacts (e.g. droughts) have been downplayed, a male out-migration puts added burden on women to mage assets including land whilst female out-migration exposes women to other forms of risk.
6. Increased incidence of Urinary Tract Infection (UTI) related diseases have been reported among women during extended flood periods, especially the elderly as they eat less and drink less to limit visitations to public latrines due to deteriorated sanitation caused by water influx.
7. Extended draught years have also been found to far impact on school enrolment or retention rates of girls than boys as several hours are spent daily in search od water and food.

The enhancement of the adaptative capacity of vulnerable people, promotion of early adaptation action and laying the foundation for long-term investment infrastructure that respond to water insecurity within social contexts are important foe water security. These are expected to increase the resilience to climate change thus forming the basis for adaptation, planning and mainstreaming of other sectors’ policies in the water sector. It has been argued that among the shortcomings of development programmes on climate change adaptation are issues of gender and poverty, often captured as an afterthought or as seperate. However, their inclusion at project conception will permit integration in the design, implementation and monitoring and evaluation.

It is important that programmes in adaptation take in consideration the differing needs of men and women and associated socio-cultural realities at all phases for effectiveness and sustainability. In addition, because women’s rights face violation in disaster processes, the assessments of differential and heterogeneous vulnerabilities across diverse demographic categories will be crucial.

In conclusion, the contextualisation of climate change within everyday interfacing geographies of vulnerability, ascertains the role of pre-existing, coupled human-environment systems of physical and social space that serve as basis for mainstreaming in policy formulation for adaptation.

Friday, April 9, 2010

‘Respect rights of househelps’

‘Respect rights of househelps’
The Ghanaian Times; Friday, April 9, 2010; Page 23; (Regional Diary)
Collins Boateng

The Leadership and Advocacy for Women in Africa (LAWA), a non-governmental organisation that seeks to promote human rights of women in Ghana and in Africa, last week held a consultative seminar on the need to monitor domestic workers in homes.

The Coordinator of LAWA, Mrs. Babara Ayesu, said there is the need for parents and guardians to understand the risk involved in doing domestic work, stressing that domestic workers sometimes are maltreated by their employer, which results in them developing psychological trauma.

She said the country has laws that regulate the right of its citizens, domestic workers are not beneficiaries of such laws, adding that there is need for government and other agencies to make domestic work professional to enable practitioners of the work to enjoy benefits like any other worker.

“The attention of domestic workers is receiving global concern and their maltreatment is regarded as an infringement on their human rights that would soon be redressed internationally,” she stressed.

Mrs. Ayesu said Ghana’s labour law does not check pain that the domestic worker goes through, adding that LAWA would make sure the laws checks the rights of domestic workers to enhance the individual rights in the country.

She said Ghana’s participation in promotion human rights globally has helped the country to partner with other countries like Uganda, Tanzania and other international bodies to address the problem of violation of women’s human rights.

She stated that this year, Ghana would collaborate with the world to redress domestic violence, equitable marital property at divorce and the workplace to enhance women’s freedom globally.

Speaking at the seminar, Ms Adwoa Sakyi, Project Coordinator for the International Union of Food, Agriculture, Hotel, Restaurant, Catering, Tobacco and allied workers associations said, there is need for all domestic workers to have right to free themselves from sexual harassment and violence in the workplace, stressing that domestic workers should report all persons who intrude on their rights to the district labour officers for appropriate sanctions.

She said, all domestic workers have the right to form or join trade unions and enjoy collective bargaining, adding that any domestic worker whose right is infringed upon should seek the authorities for redress.

Mrs. Sakyi said the domestic worker has the right to leave just as any government worker, and must be paid accordingly.

She said it is times the country treat domestic workers as professionals because without them there would chaos at their homes and that if we respect and treat them as such, it would help curb poverty and economical downtrends that the country is encountering now.